In the speech Pope Benedict XVI made in front of a huge crowd of 260 thousand people yesterday, in hist first visit to France as a Pope, as well as in interviews the Church’s leader gave, relations between Church and State were brought to attention when the message of religion and State being more open to each other was passed.
The french President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has a history of bringing religion to the spotlight, also spoke words about a new perspective in secularism, which he called “positive secularism”. Such declarations immediately got opposition responses from the french Socialist Party and from the Secular State Defense Association.
Discussions about the bonds between religion and government should be made more often. We brazilians could take a good dose of this subject with our cities mayoral elections coming up next month.
Rio de Janeiro has a particular interest in this subject, since the city has one of it’s two main candidates as an ex-bishop of the largest pentecostal churchs in Brazil, the Assembly of God.
Pentecostal churches, specially the Assembly of God, have reached an amazing power level in Brazil. They have large acceptance in lower class citizens, and their temples are spread throughout the country. These temples, most of them large and modern auditoriums, get packed to capacity when services are being held. Preachers “speak the language” of simple people, having an amazing power of argument and persuasion with their audience.
Just like the Catholic Church, Assembly of God has built it’s empire with the money of the poor. Money enough to buy the second largest TV network in Brazil, several radio stations, newspapers, magazines, publishers, have their sessions transmitted nationally in other smaller TV networks, and so on. Politics, of course, are on their list of main objectives too.
Now, with the elections period nearing it’s peek, Rio de Janeiro citizens are facing a true possibility of having a pentecostal mayor next year.
Mixing religion with State affairs is a dangerous move. I feel it’s wrong to make decisions that will affect the entire society with the light of a determined religious concept shining over. Just as an example, issues like drugs, abortion, marriage, gay rights, medical procedures and freedom of speech and belief could be seriously in risk of not being treated with the true balanced and reasonable sence of fairness they deserve.
And religious fanatism, of course, should never be forgotten as one of the ugly faces of any religion.
Religion is and will always be a part of political campaigns. For a strange reason beyond my actual comprehension, it’s still important for people to know if a candidate believes in God or not, which God, and stuff like that. But we must pay attention in order to not let a Devil in disguise run our lives preaching the Lord’s word.